Easter Menu

Easter is upon us.

I am not ready whatsoever. Graduate school is kicking my butt, however I’ll be down to one internship in the summer so I should be less frazzled.

I have been racking my brain for the last few days about what to eat on the day the prodigal son rose. Bryan hates ham so the traditional Easter meal will never happen in this household.

I also wanted to make something easy since it’s just the two of us. Last year I didn’t even remotely got within the same room as what I had planned to cooked. It’s the overachiever in me.

Also, the gluten free thing makes things a wee bit harder. I have like 9 pie crusts and puff pastry in my freezer. So one of the desserts will not be gluten free.

So completely not traditional, and quick and easy,  and remotely gluten free. Sounds complex somehow.

Easter Menu

MAIN
Sausage, beans, and rice
Corn on the cob

DESSERT

Strawberry and creme pie – not gluten free
Greek custard.

Bacon Wrapped Maduros

A few weeks before Christmas, as I perused through various facebook recipe pages, plantain ptheperfectairs  across this amazing idea.

Bacon wrapped maduros.

It sounded like yummy awesomeness. It’s sweet plantain and bacon, perfectly deliciousness.

As I was discussing this amazing find with Mumika, she told me bacon was bad for me and would give a me a coronary.

Bacon is amazing. It’s the only thing I ate in the hospital that didn’t make me nauseous from the meds I was on. Turns out the antibiotics and fungal meds were wonking up my taste buds making everything taste horrible and nothing sounded good. Except fruit, bagels, bacon. No one in the hospital told me I couldn’t eat it and the nutritionist who always reminded me I could only have half a bagel every morning never told me I was eating too much of it. I think their thought process was, at least she’s eating.

I replied to Mumika’s statement by claiming, “I’m as healthy as a diabetic horse.”

Which cracked me up. A horse with diabetes.

With football playoff starting Sunday, this would be a great appetizer to chomp down on between bouts of screaming at the TV.

Maduros is plantain that is cooked when yellow or nearly black instead of when green. Pretty much it’s ripe plantain and the more yellow and black it is, the sweeter. It’s almost the same concept as using blackened bananas for banana nut bread, except, you’re slicing thick slices and frying the plantain.

When a plantain is green and fried twice, it becomes tostones. When plantain is green and fried once and then mashed with garlic and bacon or fried pork skin, it becomes mofongo.

This is why Puerto Ricans get mad when you call them Hispanic and ask them to make tortillas. We don’t know how to make tortillas, it’s not in our cuisine. But we do know how to cook plantain at least 5 different ways.

I heart maduros. Heart them. The thicker the slice, the better. But that will be for a different post.

bacon wrapped maduros

Bacon Wrapped Maduros

1 extremely ripe plantain
oil, for frying
4 slices of bacon, cut in half

Directions

Peel plantain and slice into thick slices. There should be 8 total.

Heat oil in frying pan.

Fry plantain until they become golden brown both sides.

Wrap half a bacon slice around the maduros.

Place bacon wrapped maduros on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until bacon is nice a crispy.Makes 8.

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG.

Most amazing thing every created.

Where has this been all my life? Why didn’t I think of this?

The sweetness of the plantain pairs perfectly with the saltiness of the bacon creating the perfect sweetly savored appetizer. Or snack.

Hell, I would add a fried egg and some slices of avocado and call it breakfast.

That’s how good it is.

So the next time you have the guys over, impress them with this little slice of carribean wrapped in bacon. Because people will eat anything if it is wrapped in bacon.

Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Mushroom Sauce

Remember that sister in law with the dietary restrictions?

Yeah, I should have seen this one coming.

As she looks at the green bean casserole, “It looks like you used cream of mushroom soup, so I can’t eat it.”

“I didn’t use cream of mushroom soup.” Really? Why would I use soup from a bloody can? Why?

“What did you make it out of?”

This is why I try really hard not to be a food Nazi. When people ask me what’s in my food and then claim I used some processed can product when I spent 3 hours slaving over a stove, staring at two completely different recipes trying to figure how well I can get close to the recipe while substituting the item you can’t have, it really pisses me off. Like REALLY PISSES me off.

“Mushrooms, almond milk….”

“Well it looks like it has cream….”

This is where my mother in law comes in, “C, Michelle has you covered. She made it from scratch.”

Do you know what’s in cream of mushroom soup?!?!?!? THIS: WATER, MUSHROOMS, VEGETABLE OIL (CORN, COTTONSEED, CANOLA, AND/OR SOYBEAN), MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, WHEAT FLOUR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: SALT, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, DEHYDRATED CREAM (CREAM [MILK], SOY LECITHIN), YEAST EXTRACT, FLAVORING, DEHYDRATED GARLIC.

Why would I use this? Half a cup has 4 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of sugar. Thankfully sugar is not a listed ingredient, but monosodium glutamate is. Which is essentially MSG. Why would I put MSG in my body? WHY? And you question how I made a casserole?

You know, I didn’t have to rig everything up so you could eat it. I could have been a bitch and be all like, too bad, make your own bloody sides if you are so fearful of what’s in it. But I didn’t. I choose to honor your dietary restrictions and make that my main focus. Why? Because everyday I have to worry about what I put in my mouth. Every time I am at a function, or at someone’s house, I have to figure out if this potentially yummy piece of food is going to be my demise. I DKAed and NEARLY DIED FROM FUCKING FOOD POISONING! Do you know what it’s like to be at a baby shower or a bridal shower and know just by looking at the spread that you are going to have to go hungry because there is literally nothing you can eat? DO YOU? Because that’s my life. I get scared at weddings because I don’t know if there’s going to be a carb overload because I know, I just know, that the last thing on the BRIDE’S MIND is little ole me. At my own wedding I made sure everyone could eat because I know what it’s like to starve and get pissed watching everyone else eat yummy food and have a good time while you’re stuck eating cheese and vegetable sticks. My best friend scouted a baby shower spread for me once, came back and whispered, “You can’t eat anything. We’ll go get something later.” This same best friend was worried about my ability to eat when she saw what the menu consisted of at our other friends wedding. Hell, this same best friend made damn sure I could eat at her wedding by picking a caterer from a list of caterers I had deem good (I was helping her plan her wedding and we are both major foodies). This is my life. This is what my life consists of.

So no, I didn’t use cream of mushroom soup in my bloody green bean casserole. I intend to be able to eat what took me hours to make.

Maybe before you start accusing people of putting certain products in their food, you should actually look at who you are talking to. Maybe you should think about their dietary restrictions and how that influences how they cook food.

I HAVE to COOK HEALTHY. I WILL DIE IF I DON’T. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE TYPE 1 DIABETES!!!!!!!!!! I am not normal, I will never be normal. And all day, every second of every bloody day, all I think about is food. I am OBSESSED with FOOD. Do you know what they did prior to 1903, prior to the discovery of insulin?!?!?!? They starved type 1 diabetics. We STARVED TO DEATH. You ONLY LASTED 9 MONTHS AFTER DIAGNOSIS. NINE FUCKING MONTHS OF PAINFUL EXCRUCIATING HUNGER where DEATH WAS YOUR ONLY SALVATION.

But no, human nature takes over and people are inherently egocentric. I think people genuinely enjoy newly diagnosed problems that allows them to flaunt it and say, “Oh sorry, I can’t have that.” when in reality they are not sorry and quite happy being able to say no. How do I know? Because there are times where some person tries to put slop in front of me claiming it’s the most amazing thing ever created. But it’s not. It doesn’t even look appetizing and as always, it smells weird. And you start trying to figure out how to get out of eating this obviously not fit for human or any animal consumption crap and then you remember, I have an illness. Let’s hope there will be some ingredient that I absolutely cannot have. Oh, it has agave nectar, sorry, my kidneys can’t filter it and I don’t feel like having to skip a meal due to high blood sugar. Yes, I know it’s natural, but so is stevia and truvia and both of those mess with my numbers. It’s all about the numbers. It’s the second thing I as well as my husband, my mother, and a few of my friends obsess about.

So yeah, never doing this again. EVER.

Now that my rather long rant is over, here’s what you need to know: I cheated and used fried onions instead of making me own. I didn’t have time to chop like 5 onions up, cry my eyes out, and fry them. I also used almond milk. So you can use half and half and chicken broth quite happily where it almond milk is written. The recipe is in it’s original form and not tripled. And 3 pounds of green beans takes forever to snap off the ends. Also, I decided to use salted butter in this recipe because it was easier. When taking shortcuts, make sure they are feasible ones that do not sacrifice the dish.
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Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Mushroom Sauce

2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups almond milk (use 1 cup half and half and 1 cup chicken broth)
1 can of fried onions

Directions

Blanch green beans in boiling water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Should take about 5 minutes.

Drain green beans into colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.

Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid..

Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to coat. Cook for about 1 minute.

Add almond milk and bring to a simmer, constantly stirring, before decreasing the heat to medium-low. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Pour into baking dish.

Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Makes 8.

This actually came out pretty amazing. The almond milk sort of brought the flavors together and highlighted the mushrooms.

I’m happy that I decided to go with the original recipe and substituting the broth and half and half with almond milk. I was staring at a mushroom sauce recipe for about 30 minutes when the oh your such an idiot bulb went off in my head.

Bryan tends to like his green beans with a crunch, so you can blanch longer or hell, even cook the green beans in the boiling water if mushiness is your happy place.

Either way, you and your family will not be disappointed with this recipe. And you will never use canned soup ever again. Sometimes, made from scratch is the only way to go. And I know what your thinking, “This will take me forever!” But it won’t. It actually is quite simple to make and the whole process goes by quickly.

One of my brother in laws loved this green bean casserole

Sweet Potato Mashed Potatoes using Almond Milk

My sister in law is breastfeeding her son who happens to have a dairy and egg allergy. So after talking to her about what non-dairy products she knows she can get away with, I decided almond milk was the best way to go to substitute milk. I still used butter because honestly, there is no substitute for butter.

Because the family decided to do Thanksgiving on Saturday, I used today to start making my sides – the corn, the potatoes, and the green bean casserole. And I also made the pecan pie bark

It took me three hours to make everything….for 15 people.

As I was working on the sweet potato, a recipe I had used before because Bryan went through a stupid lets be healthy with our milk phase and hated everything, my mother in law tells me how my sister in law told her that she hoped I didn’t use sugar in my sweet potatoes.

You have to be bloody kidding me. You are scared that I am going to used sugar in my sweet potato mash?!?!?!? Do you not know who you are talking about?!?!?!? What do I have? I have diabetes! DIABETES!!!!!!! Do you know what that means? It means why the fuck am I going to add bloody extra sugar in a meal when if I do that I can’t fucking eat it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What. THE. FUCK!

I get it, I don’t see you that much, you don’t see me that much. Here I am cooking these amazing sides, replacing milk with a non dairy substitute to make sure you can eat within your dietary restrictions. Why would you even care about my dietary restrictions when you don’t have one person to worry about, but two people. You and your son. So of course when you think only about yourself and your needs, you fail to realize who is cooking this meal and why this meal is going to have everything made from scratch.

Why is it made from scratch, because your SISTER IN LAW HAS FUCKING TYPE 1 DIABETES that’s why. And because my life is nothing but a dietary restriction, I’m going to make bloody sure I can eat my awesomeness.

I ended up making a joke that I would add honey roasted pecans on top. When Bryan saw it, he’s all, “What no marshmallows?” And even though I glared because he knew better, I also smiled because I knew it was a joke. He also didn’t know the comment his sister had said to his mother. Then when my joke was brought to light by his mother, Bryan even looked at his sister weird and questioned her remark.

So what you need to know is that I used almond milk. Also, I’m posting the original not for 15 people recipe. If you triple it, there will probably be more than enough because not everyone will eat it. Unless you come from a sweet potato loving family.

sweetpotatomash

Sweet Potato Mashed Potatoes using Almond Milk

2 pounds, peeled and cut into huge chunks
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Boil water seasoned with salt.

Place sweet potatoes in boiled water and cook into fork tender.

Drain in a colander and return to pot.

Mash sweet potatoes until they are mashed where you want them to be. I like a little bit of lumps, but that’s just me.

Add milk, salt, and butter.

Stir or mash until well combined and butter has melted.

Transfer to glass dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Makes 6.

I really love this healthy recipe. The sweet potato mash comes out so well that no one notices the almond milk at all. They just assume you used regular milk or cream or something. No extra sugar, no brown sugar, or marshmallows or whatever. Just plain simple ingredients making yummy food.

So if you want a more healthy version, use this. It doesn’t get any healthier than this recipe. And everyone will love it. The almond milk really brings out the sweet potato.

(Edit: One of my brother in laws was amazed over the incorporation of the almond milk)

 

 

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad

We had watermelon leftover from the margaritas. I had bought mint that we ended up never using. I found feta in my fridge which I have no clue where it came from but it was there saying, “Use me, use me.”

I find seasonal salads completely overrated. Who decided you can only have a watermelon, feta and mint salad in the summer? Or a strawberry spinach candied walnut salad in the spring? Or something with butternut squash during the fall? And it’s so bloody cold in the winter that no one in their right mind wakes up and says, “Oh, today would be a perfect day for salad!” They don’t. They are thinking, blimey, it’s bloody freezing outside, my coffee warmth is going to where off soon, let me go make some soup to warm my insides up.

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Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad

3 cups watermelon, cubed or balled
4 oz feta, crumbled
3 mint leaves, torn

Directions

In a medium bowl, gently combined ingredients.

Made 6.

I really didn’t think these flavors would work. I thought it would come out horrible.

But it didn’t. The flavors meshed so well that you forget exactly what combination of food you’re eating.

The mintiness, the saltiness, and the pop of sweetness.

It was amazing.

I would definitely have this as a side salad at a picnic. Or as an appetizer. Or a snack. Or an elegant side for a brunch.

Roasted Potato, Asparagus, Onion, and Bacon

I’m horrible at sides, we all know this. Most of my food comes in casserole or one pot sort of meal form. It’s just easier that way. Not much to think about, no stressing over what kind a flavors mesh well together, and what have you.

I have no clue how I came up with this side. Actually, that’s a lie. I do know. I sort of used thanksgiving dinner as my inspiration. Stuffing and bacon and potatoes and asparagus. However, it didn’t look holiday-y at all.

Besides, it sounded phenomenal in my head and usually it comes out the way I imagined it.

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Roasted Potato, Asparagus, Onion, and Bacon

3 potatoes, diced
1 1/2 pounds of asparagus, cut into thirds, only use top two sections
1/2 onion, sliced
3 stripes of bacon chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

In a small mixing bowl, mix potatoes and olive oil until well combined.

Place potatoes on a cookie sheet.

Layer asparagus, onion, and bacon over potatoes.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until veggies are nice and roasted.

Makes 6.

You might want to add a little bit a salt. I forgot the salt because I don’t really cook with it.

Everything came together so well. This would be a great side to any holiday dinner. It has everything you need and a healthier form. The potatoes are roasted instead of mashed with cream, milk, cream cheese, or mayo of some sort. There’s asparagus. There’s oven roasted nearly caramelized onions. And then you sprinkle a little bit of bacon on top so the fat gets cooked into everything.

Which is why I didn’t add salt. The saltiness of the bacon should have been enough. But then I realized, you always ALWAYS have to sprinkle a little bit of salt on potatoes to get that awesome flavor we all love to come out. Or else it tastes bland.

And on top of that, it looks colorful with the pops of green and red.

Fried butter bread

You know how when you go to a diner and order breakfast at 3AM because you just got out of the bar or a strip club and it always comes with that fried butter bread that they make on the griddle. It’s literally my favorite part of breakfast. Favorite part. I never order breakfast at those diners though. I always order like a club sandwich or dessert or something.

If there’s T-bone and eggs on the menu, Bryan will get it. And by the time he gets to the bread, he’s full. Because like me, he leaves the best for last. And because he’s been drinking, he’s like a woman peeing every 5 minutes, if I have the chance, I will yonk a piece off his plate and act like nothing happened.

I love it so much. I swear it makes the whole breakfast.

Fried Butter Bread

1/2 tablespoon butter
2 slices of bread

Directions

Heat skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot place 1/2 the butter on the skillet.

Once butter is melted, place slices of bread on top of the butter. Slather rest of butter on top of slice of bread.

Cook until golden brown.

Flip and cook until the other side is also a golden brown.

Makes 4 triangles. Per 2 triangles.

I love the butteriness. I love the grilled taste the butter forms when cooked onto the bread. Buttery and crisp = perfection.

Just like the diner.

Aparagus Bacon Pasta

Sometimes I like my pasta without a sauce. Or as Bryan puts it, a dry pasta.

Pasta doesn’t always need a tomato or a cream sauce. Sometimes it needs to be free of any sauces and made with fresh ingredients. Sometimes it needs to be more of a side instead of an entrée. I like to think of pasta without sauce as elegant. It pairs great with fish and roasts. In this case it was paired with ah a pork tenderloin.

I knew the minute I saw this recipe I would be in paradise.

Bryan doesn’t like the whole cooking with wine thing, but whatever. It is always cooked out leaving nothing but flavor. And that’s what you should aim for when cooking with any sort of alcohol – the flavor.

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Asparagus Bacon Pasta

8 oz uncooked thin spaghetti
8 strips bacon, diced
1 pound fresh aspagarus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot of water until considered al dente according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, fry bacon in pan until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add asparagus to the pan and sauté in the bacon grease, stirring occasionally, until cooked.

Remove asparagus and set aside with the bacon.

Slowly add the white wine to the pan, and scape the bottom of the pan with a spoon to deglaze the pan. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced by about half.

Add the pasta, asparagus, bacon and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to the pan, and toss until combined.

Sprinkle pasta with the remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Makes 6.

When Bryan first saw this he asked, “Is there enough?”
“It’s a side sweetie, not an entrée.”

I used Mosacto instead of dry white wine and felt the Moscato added some extra flavor. Nut if you want to use a dry chardonnay, go right a head. Hell make a cooking battle out of all various kinds of white wine and tell me who wins. I bet it will be the Moscato. It’s the sweetness that pairs oh so well with the saltiness of the bacon.

This is what I’m talking about when I say elegant. It was also nothing but pig meal, but whatever. It was still yummy and Mumika left for home with a full stomach of yumminess.

I could, however, see this recipe doubled with sliced oven baked chicken breast on top of it. That would also make a lovely meal.

Yellow Squash Saute

My mother in law makes this amazing yellow squash casserole. Originally that was my plan – a squash casserole. I had an onion, I had bacon. I was set.

And then I ate lunch at this local Chinese place.

Broccoli and beef with wonton soup and rice does not come up that well. What made it worse was I was at HEB when this went down and it took my 20 minutes and a lot of sweat to get over the disagreement. By the time I cleaned myself up, a squash casserole was furthest from my mind.

I decided a sauté would be just as good.

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Squash Sauté

3 yellow squash, halved and sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
2 strips of bacon

Directions

Fry bacon until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

In bacon drippings saute the onions and squash until tender.

Crumble bacon and return to pan.

Mix until well combined.

Makes 6.

Supposedly this sauté can be considered southern comfort food. However, anything with bacon can be considered comfort food.

Its yummy. I guess I’m slowly learning about Bryan’s home cooking upbringing. Too bad he doesn’t like squash that much. Although, he does eat his Mom’s casserole. Maybe that’s the key: hide it in panko, cheese, and white sauce goodness….

Hmmmm…..maybe next time.

Mozzarella Salad

I was first introduced to this at TGIFriday. I had never been inside of one until 2009 because it was the only place open close to Bryan’s and my work when he got out at 1030PM. So on the days where my last session ended at 10PM and I didn’t feel like cooking, we would go to TGIFridays. Or as Bryan likes to call it tiggyfridays.

I usually get the bruschetta chicken pasta and Bryan gets the parmesan crusted chicken with this awesome mozzarella salad. Even though I get the same thing every time, I would get jealous over this mozzarella salad. And then I fell in love with the sizzin’ Steak and Spinach.

What is it paired with – the mozzarella salad.

Hells to the yeah!

When I was over at Mumika’s I was supposed to make a BLT Club sandwich of sorts and I thought this would pair perfectly with it. But, as always, life likes to go a different path no matter how well you plan things, and this lunch was never created.

A few weeks later, I paired it with an entrée.
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Mozzarella Salad

15 grape tomatoes, halved
10 mozzarella ciliegine, halved
1/4 red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons mozzarella water
2 teaspoons, Italian seasonings
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together.

Makes 4.

When I first made it Bryan told it me it was good but there was something missing. Then he realized it needed some acidity to bring out the tomatoes, the crunchiness of the red onions, and the blandness of the mozzarella.

“Do we have basalmic vinegar?”
“No.”
“Red wine vinegarette?”
“Yes, but it’s not open.”
“Oh.”
“Do you think red wine vinegar would work?” I asked.
His face brightened up, “Yes. Yes it would.”

I really love having someone to bounce ideas off of that is as big of a foodie as I am.

I went back, added the red wine vinegar and it made a world of a difference.

This salad would be great as a little appetizer where you have toothpicks and put half the ball, a slice of onion, and half a grape tomato on it. The vinegary water would serve as a marinade before you put everything on the toothpick. It would also make a great side for brunch or a lunch involving a grilled sandwich of sorts.

The perfect bite:
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